It Is Hard to Believe that there Are Other Worlds in this World.

1

 

Nothing so hard in nature as faith is,2
For3 to believe impossibilities—
Not that they’re not,4 but that they do not clear5
Unto our reason and to sense appear.6                      
For reason cannot find them out, since they7                    5
Seem wrought beyond all Nature’s course and way.8
For9 many things our senses dull may scape,10
For they’re too gross to know each form and11 shape.
So in this world another world12 may be,
Which13 we do neither touch, taste, smell, hear, see.14   10
What eye so clear is, yet did ever see15
Those little hooks that in the loadstone be,16
Which draw hard iron, or give reasons why17
The needle’s point still in the north will lie?
As for example, atoms in the air                                           15
We ne’er perceive, although the light be fair.
And18 whatsoever can a body claim,
Though ne’er so small, life may be in the same.
And what has19 life may understanding have,
Though’t20 be to us as buried in the21 grave.                      20
Then probably may men and women small,
Live in the world, which we know not22 at all,
May build them houses to dwell in, and make23
Orchards and gardens,24 where they pleasure take,
Have25 birds which sing, and cattle in the field,                25
May plow and sow, and there26 small corn may yield;
They may have commonwealths,27 and kings to reign,
Make wars and battles, where are many28 slain,
And all without our hearing, or our sight,
Or29 any of our other senses30 light.                                     30
And other stars, and suns, and moons31 may be,
Which our dull eyes shall never come to see.
But we are apt to laugh at tales so told:
Thus senses gross do back our reason32 hold.
Yet things which are ’gainst nature we think33 true,        35
That spirits change and can take bodies new,
That life may be, yet in no body live,
For which no sense nor reason we can give.
As34 incorporeal spirits this fancy35 feigns,
Yet fancy cannot be without some brains.                          40
If fancy36 without substance cannot37 be,
Then souls are more than reason well can see.

  1. In 1653 this poem is called “It Is Hard to Believe that there May Be Other Worlds in this World.”
  2. Nothing so hard in nature as faith is,] Nothing doth seem so hard to Nature’s Eyes, 1664, 1668
  3. For] As 1664, 1668
  4. Not that they’re not, but that they do not clear] As doth impossible to us appeare, 1653
  5. A marginal note in Cavendish’s 1653 text reads: “As it seems to us” (next to the phrase “Not ’cause ’tis not”). This note does not appear in 1664 or 1668.
  6. Unto our reason and to sense appear.] Not ’cause ’tis not, but to our sense not cleere; 1653
  7. For reason cannot find them out, since they] But that we cannot in our Reason finde, 1653
  8. Seem wrought beyond all Nature’s course and way.] As being against Nature’s course and kinde. 1653
  9. For] But 1664, 1668
  10. dull may scape,] do escape; 1664, 1668
  11. they’re too gross to know each form and] Sense is grosse, not every thing can 1653
  12. So in this world another world] As that another World in this 1664; As, that another World in this 1668
  13. Which] That 1653
  14. touch, taste, smell, hear, see.] touch, nor hear, nor see, 1664, 1668
  15. What eye so clear is, yet did ever see] Nor taste, nor smell; What Eye’s so clear, that saw 1664; Nor taste, nor smell. What Eye’s so clear, that saw 1668
  16. be] draw 1664, 1668
  17. Which draw hard iron or give reasons why] Hard Iron? or what Brain can reason, why 1664; Hard Iron? or, what Brain can reason, why 1668
  18. And] For 1664, 1668
  19. has] hath 1664, 1668
  20. Though’t] Yet 1653
  21. the] a 1664, 1668
  22. know not] not know 1664, 1668
  23. to dwell in, and make] severall things may make, 1653
  24. Orchards and gardens,] Have Orchards, Gardens, 1653
  25. Have] And 1653
  26. May plow and sow, and there] And plowed Grounds, which them 1664, 1668
  27. They may have commonwealths,] And Common-wealths may have, 1653
  28. Make wars and battles, where are many] Wars, Battells have, and one another 1653
  29. Or] Nor yet in 1653
  30. other senses] Senses 1653
  31. suns, and moons] Moones, and Suns 1653
  32. Thus senses gross do back our reason] For our gross Senses Reason back do 1664; For our gross Senses, Reason back do 1668
  33. Yet things which  are ’gainst nature we think] Things against Nature we do thinke are 1653
  34. As] And 1664, 1668
  35. this fancy] Fancy 1664, 1668
  36. If fancy] And if it 1664, 1668
  37. without substance cannot] cannot without Substance 1668